Study on the conversion of railway sites – Algeria

Support for Algerian partners in examining the feasibility of railway site conversion projects and testing the approach at two sites in Algiers

Exploratory work conducted in Algeria in 2017 under the Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI) identified an area in which the Government and Algerian public bodies expressed the need for support: conversion of urban railway sites and infrastructure. These sites are high value-added assets in economic, functional and urban planning terms. Following a collaborative urban workshop held in Algiers in 2018 on the topic of developing rail property assets, a specific UPFI-funded study on projects to convert two pilot railway sites in Algiers was launched. Agence française de développement (AFD) and the other members of UPFI’s Steering Committee support Algeria’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Société nationale des transports ferroviaires (SNTF) and Entreprise Métro d’Alger (EMA) in these deliberations.

Context of the project

Initiating a technical dialogue on the conversion of railway sites

The Greater Algiers area has had a strong urban dynamic for a number of decades and now has a population of over 8 million. Against a backdrop of growing urbanisation, transport infrastructure – especially rail infrastructure – has a key role to play in promoting sustainable urban mobility solutions designed to improve the quality of life in the city, increase the economic attractiveness of the different districts in Algiers and foster the transition to a sustainable city.

The Algerian Government and its public bodies have already chosen this policy through the adoption of a rail development plan and by growing and expanding public transport in the capital (metro, tram, bus routes, cable cars, etc.). In parallel with projects to develop new transport infrastructure, there is also the issue of developing and converting existing sites to (i) improve transport efficiency and the quality of mobility services in keeping with urban growth and the city’s development, and (ii) optimise substantial land holdings and rail property assets. The economic, functional and urban planning value of such railway sites (train stations, metro stations, etc.) is high, particularly as they are rare, strategically located in the city centre or at the heart of the Algiers metropolitan area, and are structurally important for linking the various hubs of the Algerian capital with the rest of the country. Developing railway sites lies at the core of the strategic deliberations and policies of the Algerian Government and its operators, in terms of both the strategic plan to develop and enhance Algiers and the Government’s transport, urban and interurban mobility policy.

Agha train station and its urban setting ©Nina HADJI, Agence française de développement

The exploratory work conducted in Algeria in 2017 under the Urban Projects Finance Initiative (UPFI) identified the development and conversion of railway sites as an area for cooperation between Algeria’s authorities and public bodies, on the one hand, and AFD and the other members of UPFI’s Steering Committee, on the other.

As part of this dialogue with the Algerian partners, a UPFI-funded urban collaborative workshop was held in April 2018 to exchange and share experiences of railway site conversion projects. This workshop in Algiers brought together stakeholders from the Algerian transport and urban mobility sector, in particular the Ministry of Transport and its two operators – Entreprise Métro d’Alger (Algiers Metro Company) and Société nationale des transports ferroviaires (National Railway Transport Company) – as well as two other Algerian public bodies under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport – Autorité organisatrice des transports urbains d’Alger (AOTUA) [Algiers Urban Transport Organising Authority] and Agence nationale d’études et de suivi de la réalisation des investissements ferroviaires (ANESRIF) [National Agency for Rail Investment Studies and Monitoring] – and representatives of the Wilaya of Algiers.

Following this workshop, the Ministry of Transport, SNTF and EMA were keen to continue this dialogue through deeper technical assistance to support the design and implementation of railway site conversion projects.

The UPFI project

A technical study dedicated to projects to convert railway sites into multimodal exchange hubs integrated within the urban environment

To continue this technical dialogue, a specific UPFI-funded study on the conversion of railway sites was launched by AFD in July 2019. The AREP Ville – Menighetti Parvis – EY consortium was appointed to conduct this study.

Operationally-oriented technical support focusing on two pilot sites in Algiers

The study concerns dedicated support for each of the two operators at separate pilot sites in Algiers: Agha train station in downtown Algiers, which is owned by SNTF, and Haï El Badr metro station located in the immediate suburbs of Algiers for which EMA is responsible.
Agha train station is a strategic site located in the heart of downtown Algiers. A large proportion of people and goods pass directly through or near this city-centre hub (rail passengers, people using the neighbouring bus station, motorists using the connecting road, Algiers cargo port opposite the train station).

The first component of this study dedicated to the Agha site concerns support for SNTF, the contracting authority for the Agha train station conversion project. In particular, this will involve providing technical support to SNTF in examining the project’s feasibility and implementing a partnership strategy with the region’s other players.

Agha train station ©ID&S for Agence française de développement

Haï El Badr metro station is located in the immediate suburbs of Algiers and connects the city’s outlying districts with the city centre. The station is located at the junction between two densely populated districts of these inner suburbs (Kouba and Oued Ouchayeh-Bachdjerah).

Haï El Badr metro station ©Nina HADJI, Agence française de développement

The consortium of consultancy firms assembled for this second study component (Haï El Badr site) will perform an initial feasibility study vis-à-vis the project to convert the metro station into a multimodal exchange hub integrated within the Haï El Badr district and will present scenarios to EMA regarding the development of land and property holdings around the station.

Haï El Badr metro station ©AREP Ville – Menighetti Parvis – EY consortium, for Agence française de développement

Providing the Ministry of Transport, SNTF and EMA with the tools to design and implement railway site conversion projects in Algiers and the rest of Algeria

This study is rounded off by a third component applied to both pilot sites: methodological support for the Ministry of Transport, SNTF and EMA (and the other Algerian public bodies in the sector) to jointly devise a method and tools to assess feasibility and design railway site conversion projects. A collective and iterative intelligence method will be implemented thanks to a number of workshops to jointly devise this methodology and tools to examine the business case and feasibility of railway site conversion projects.

This study therefore fulfils a requirement of the Ministry of Transport and its operators, SNTF and EMA, which are seeking support to examine the feasibility of railway site conversion projects. This should enable them to effectively initiate redevelopment/conversion projects in Algiers and the rest of Algeria.

Key indicators of the project

  • Two pilot railway site conversion projects supported: Agha train station and Haï El Badr metro station, both strategically located in the Algiers metropolitan area;
  • Three Algerian partners benefiting from direct, dedicated support under this study: Ministry of Transport, SNTF and EMA.